Kettle Corn runs down Paynter late
DEL MAR, Calif. (AP)
Trainer John Sadler's 6-year-old Kettle Corn came back from last place to beat Bob Baffert's heavy favorite Paynter on Saturday in the $200,000 San Diego Handicap at Del Mar.
Paynter, the 3-5 favorite, looked to be in perfect position in second for most of the race and came out of the final turn with the lead, but Kettle Corn and jockey Victor Espinoza came charging from the far outside for a half-length victory, covering 1-1/16 miles in 1:41.83.
The San Diego Handicap, a Grade 2 race, is considered the main steppingstone to the biggest race of the Del Mar meeting, the Grade 1, $1 million Pacific Classic. Sadler said he's pointing the horse to the Aug. 25 race.
''He always runs well in the big races. He's been a very good, honest, blue-collar horse,'' Sadler said. ''He deserves to win a big one.''
Kettle Corn, who was third in the same race a year ago, was coming off a hard-closing second to Baffert's Game on Dude in the Hollywood Gold Cup.
Kettle Corn earned $120,000 for the win, his eighth in 24 lifetime starts, for a career total of $653,111. He returned $9.20 on a $2 win bet.
Batti Man was third.
Baffert managed an easy win in the day's other $200,000 race at Del Mar, the Fleet Treat Stakes for 3-year-old fillies. Baffert saddled Sweet Marini in the gate-to-wire, 4-3/4-length victory. The filly covered seven furlongs in 1:22.25.
The odds-on favorite, Doinghardtimeagain, was briefly second but faded to fifth in the field of six.